The tragic irony of Muslim protests
There is little point writing beyond this. Muslims protest. Whatever it is, they protest. Protests turn violent. People condemn. Then it is an insult of Islam. This rubbish cycle continues forever…
Today, when news hit that a Berlin court has allowed a rightwing extremist organization to use cartoons of Mohammed during their protest; I remembered the Danish cartoon controversy. At that time, Orkut was the social network of choice. A Danish newspaper had published a series of cartoons of Islamic prophet Mohammed, much to the delight of atheists and the many people irritated with touchy Muslims.
Predictably, very predictably, Muslims were furious. Protests happened worldwide. Bombs, death threats, the works. Yet, they resulted in increased hate for Islam and more ridicule. Communities like “Quran is not from God” flourished. Indian, Pakistani and other atheists in countries with restricted freedoms took to fake profiles to vent their fury, many from countries with freedom of speech posted from their real profiles. Me having neither luxury remained content to read.
It was quite apparent that the more the protests raged, the more insane Muslims looked.
But you know what the irony of this was? The people who took the protests far and wide were Muslims themselves. Two Muslim Imams who had got asylum in Denmark had compiled the cartoons. For good measure, they added cartoons from another newspaper, which were making fun of the first newspaper’s campaign and not Mohammed at all.
They added three cartoons to their dossier that had not been published anywhere. At all. One was a picture of a man at a pig squealing contest in France. A general photo available on the Internet. They added it to their dossier with a caption saying that he was Mohammed, thus committing blasphemy themselves, but Muslims ignored that when it got exposed, as they were highlighting the sins of the original cartoons. Many made excuses that the photos may have been published somewhere. Or may have been mailed as forwards.
Atheists in one of the community ran a challenge asking anyone to prove that the photos were published anywhere before the dossier by the Imams or to prove that such a forward existed. To my knowledge, no one did. Bombs, death threats, mayhem followed. The newspaper was forced to apologize in the interests of humanity and their own safety, though their law did not require them to.
Similar protests happened when a crazy pastor in the US threatened to burn a Quran and eventually did burn it. Protests and condemnation followed worldwide with attacks on Americans (which, to many meant any white people). A brutal massacre followed in Afghanistan.
Some photo of a pig at/on Mecca (I never did find out) resulted in muslims in Thane or Mulund rioting. Of course, an image search can still find lots of blasphemous images. It is impossible to wipe them off the Internet. So any time you want to get Muslims acting insane, all you have to do is Google and tweet a link.
It became further ridiculous when ridicule of Islam for being a violent religion was protested by huge processions of Muslims, and someone with a sharp eye caught posters saying “Kill those who say Islam is violent” and “Kill those who say Islam is intolerant”.
It would be hilarious, but is tragic that all you have to do is create a fake profile; upload an insulting image and watch Muslims destroy their lives as well as those of others. Because make no mistake, apart from lawless wastelands of the world, every single place, Muslims got into trouble with the law over vandalism, rioting, murder, attempt to murder and what not. This is the part everyone forgets, or it would end. The swathes of destruction and dead people stood indisputable proof of the violence of Islam. In protesting a condemnation of Islam, Muslims set about proving it right.
Countless Muslims got police records over these that would forever be a mark on their records, damaging future jobs, visas, passports, education and more. They would forever be on the radars of US organizations. And US security is Obsessive Compulsive. Then, when they travel, if there is increased security for Muslims, that is seen as insulting too.
The real story here is the fiction peddled by religious leaders that every injustice against every single Muslim needs Muslims everywhere to be outraged. If under normal circumstances people break, vandalize, threaten, indulge in hate speech, they are thugs. If they do it for religion, they are people who are hurt. Historic wrongs must be remembered, and hopefully reversed. Any wrong against a Muslim is intentional. Non-Muslims violating Muslim norms are a greater outrage than Muslims. Non-Muslims killing Muslims are a greater outrage than Muslims.
Thus, if you have someone who preaches the Muslim need to protest, he is in business all year. And I do mean business, because the main purpose of these protests works out as shows of power as well as making people feel scared enough of non-Muslims that they huddle together and support whoever the big guy with the claims of power and protection is. Which will happen to be the guy promoting protest or whoever he points to. Surprise!
Where Muslims were in minorities, they became targets for retaliatory hate crime attacks for their “terrorist supporting” ways and for imposing their religious expectations on the world at large. Sikhs often paid the price, because too many people are ignorant about differences. Of course, these hate crimes are further fodder on how Islam is attacked.
The crazies. Religious-political entities whose support base would be pathetic because of their regressive and unpalatable attitudes become bastions of true Muslim protection, because the world is unsafe enough without them. There is always political profit in violence, and if there is a neighbourhood mullah explaining h
People trying hard to humanize Islam. To build bridges. To coexist.
Closer home, we have Muslims on some kind of rampage. Protests turning violent in various cities. Yesterday in Lucknow the Buddha park was vandalized. Statues, yes, but even plants uprooted. I wonder what evil the plants represented. Worse, what sense in the world does it make to vandalize the Buddha park in Lukhnow, because someone showed you photos of Lamas standing over Muslim dead bodies (which in reality are Lamas on a rescue operation). If you are going to be stupid, is it any surprise that criminals can con you into getting a police record for their profit?
Few are going to notice that as far as damage to life and limb goes, these protests have not lead to as many deaths as their numbers would lead one to fear. There have been smaller mobs and more dead in India’s history itself. The police is happy to let the rioters do their thing. If all goes well, they will be a nice vote bank at the cost of public property. If not, they can always claim to be overwhelmed. Notice how the profit belongs to someone else, in loss, it will be the Muslims blamed. A political method, but the sanction comes from their own leaders using them.
People from northeast are under a real, imaginary or fake death threat all over the country – depending on who you believe – the threats may even be planted. But the result is the same. There are people from the northeast fleeing cities like Bangalore, Hyderabad and Pune to better be safe than sorry. True or false, they work because of the reputation Muslims have created. It is believable that people in an unrelated place can be hurt by Muslims. The rumor *could* be true. This credibility to the rumors is something Muslims have granted, which gives anyone with an internet connection the ability to plant rumors on their behalf. This can be Muslims who would like not to be traced, or Hindus who would like to score a political point, or anyone with a political agenda.
All any one has to do to make Muslims look like homicidal maniacs is…. nothing. Just point them to a suitable outrage. Hyper emotionalism and misplaced anger do the rest. All the government needs to do to shrug its own responsibilities of massive misgovernance is to let the circus distract from them. And please note here, by government it is the Congress government, the supposed messiah of Muslims that I am talking about. The BJP is not even in the picture here. This time, the worst they may have done – *may* – even that is unverified; is scared northeast people into believing rumors, attributing intentions or hyped the threat angle, etc. Political opportunism, but waaaaay after Muslims and Congress have done worse.
In my view, the story of the Muslim outrage – everywhere in the world, where it isn’t local – is Muslims insulting Islam more than anyone else. They harm themselves and their futures most. They make their religion look like a headless chicken act holding local communities hostage to outrage anywhere in the world, which is bizarre. Unless Muslims learn to see how they get used for political purposes, they will forever be delivering outrage when buttons are pushed, till a point comes when the religion itself starts getting banned for being a law and order problem.
This is a crisis now. There needs to be better dialogue among Muslims and categorical refusals to become mobs to protest things on the basis of religion. To refuse to risk their own lives, limbs, properties and reputations over things happening in another part of the world. To rubbish the fiction that a government not moved to action by a multi-ethnic massacre spanning months can be intimidated into fixing problems if enough buses are burnt today afternoon.
Am I recommending against the fundamental right to protest? No. I am recommending FOR the fundamental right to free speech – which includes receiving accurate information, that gets encroached by whoever wants to use outrage. Right to free speech includes right to information. Your free choice is only as good as the information being fed to you. Time to stop assuming some sources of information as golden. They have stabbed too many backs. Change the victim narrative. You are enough people. Stop being paranoid. The exact same advice I give to women. LIVE free and limits will dissolve. Fighting ain’t gonna work if you already are the victim. And if you aren’t victim, you don’t need to fight.
This cannot be stressed enough. This is already a crisis.